Solana’s rise, BlackRock’s growing BTC exposure, and more

Avatar

The Solana blockchain has been, so far, one of the strongest performers of this bull cycle, with network activity and integrations surging despite past outages and technical challenges.

According to data from Hello Moon, the network saw a record 55 million new addresses created between March and April, thanks to the memecoin frenzy and growing activity from decentralized applications such as DePINs.

One of the latest companies to join Solana’s ecosystem is PayPal. The fintech integrated its stablecoin, PayPal USD (PYUSD), into the network on May 29, aiming to expand its utility for daily transactions.

Similarly, the interoperability protocol LayerZero included Solana on its network of more than 70 chains on the same day. According to LayerZero, Solana’s high throughput and low transaction fees make it suitable “for decentralized applications, particularly in DeFi, NFTs, and gaming.”

Solana’s growth is not without challenges. Concerns over the network’s resilience after a series of outages still persist around the ecosystem. According to its foundation, a full version of the Firedancer upgrade will be available in the coming months.

Along with Solana’s comeback, this week’s Crypto Biz also explores BlackRock funds’ growing exposure to Bitcoin, Riot Platforms’ bid for Bitfarms, Semler Scientific using BTC as a treasury reserve, and more.

BlackRock adds own Bitcoin ETF to income and bond funds

BlackRock is adding shares of its spot Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) to its existing portfolio of funds. Regulatory filings show that the company’s investment funds bought shares of its own BTC in the first quarter. BlackRock’s Strategic Income Opportunities Fund (BSIIX) snapped up $3.56 million worth of the iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT), while its Strategic Global Bond Fund (MAWIX) made a $485,000 purchase, according to May 28 Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The IBIT shares are a fraction of BSIIX and MAWIX’s investment portfolios, worth $37.4 billion and $776.4 million, respectively.

The BlackRock Strategic Income Opportunities Fund’s purchase of 88,000 IBIT shares. Source: SEC

Semler Scientific shares up 30% after adopting Bitcoin as treasury reserve

Nasdaq-listed Semler Scientific (SMLR) saw its stock price soar by 30% on May 28 after announcing that Bitcoin would become its primary treasury reserve asset. As part of the strategy, Semler purchased 581 BTC for a total of $40 million. The company’s board of directors and senior management reportedly spent “substantial time” examining potential uses for its cash reserves, including evaluating acquisition opportunities. “After studying various alternatives, we decided that holding Bitcoin would be the best use of our excess cash,” said Eric Semler, chairman of Semler Scientific, in a statement.

Riot Platforms proposes $950M buyout for Bitfarms amid CEO dispute

Bitcoin mining firm Riot Platforms has made an offer to acquire Bitfarms, a smaller Canadian competitor, for around $950 million in cash and common stock, representing a 24% premium over Bitfarms’ average share price. Riot is already Bitfarms’ largest shareholder, with a 9.25% stake. This offer follows Bitfarms’ internal management turmoil, including the recent dismissal and subsequent lawsuit of former CEO Geoffrey Morphy. The executive sued the company for breach of contract, wrongful dismissal and damages, demanding $27 million. Bitfarms fired him on May 13 and appointed chairman and co-founder Nicolas Bonta to act in his place.

Cathie Wood’s ARK Invest pours $60M into Elon Musk’s AI venture

Cathie Wood’s investment firm, ARK Invest, has acquired a stake in Elon Musk’s AI startup, xAI. Announced on May 28, ARK’s chief futurist, Brett Winton, revealed that the new investment constitutes about 2% of the fund’s holdings. This move follows X’s introduction of AI-curated audiences for advertisers on May 10. With an increasing focus on AI-related investments, the company recently disclosed that 4% of its holdings are in OpenAI shares and 5% are in Anthropic stocks. Winton said he believes AI foundation models will be worth “multiple trillions of dollars by the end of this decade.”

Crypto Biz is your weekly pulse on the business behind blockchain and crypto, delivered directly to your inbox every Thursday.